Strength Through Change

Over and over, we hear that higher education is changing, and it is – rapidly. The days when a student applied to one or two schools, attended one of them on campus for four years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree are disappearing rapidly.

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Horizons - Fall 2019

September 25, 2019

Over and over, we hear that higher education is changing, and it is – rapidly. The days when a student applied to one or two schools, attended one of them on campus for four years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree are disappearing rapidly. Students now compare financial aid packages from multiple schools before choosing based on cost, degree programs are earned online, and the public is even growing skeptical about the essential value of higher education. To survive, universities must prove that what they offer is worth the investment and better than the competition. Those that do not, disappear.

For Graceland, however, the challenge is not just delivering well-designed courses. Of course, we need to do that, but we must also be true to our core identity: a genuine community of integrity and authenticity that focuses on developing citizens empowered to make a better, more sustainable world community. While that goal remains constant, the way to achieve that in 2020 cannot just be what worked in the past. The times in which we live are changing so quickly; our approach to education must evolve to keep Graceland strong for now and into the future.

Graceland is adapting and changing. Our community is now much more diverse, and our efforts to build community are more intentional and challenging. We work harder to build a holistic learning community. Faculty work constantly to improve the curriculum. Students engage the technological innovations of today. All students are being encouraged to seek leadership positions in the house system and student government. Student Life and Academic Affairs are working closely to build bridges between the classroom and activities such as athletics and fine arts. Blueprints for remodeling and renovation of campus facilities are incorporating student priorities, like expansion of food services and computer services.

Sustainability demands change, but it must not sacrifice Graceland’s core identity as a welcoming community that recognizes the worth of every member – student, faculty and staff. I believe we are navigating the journey between the continuity of our values and mission with an ever changing and ever more complex world. I am grateful that the Power of Together is alive and well at Graceland.

Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD
Chair

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